Torquay vicar Sam puts fear of heights behind him to climb to top of church and raise £8,000

The team wait for their turnThe team wait for their turn

Torquay vicar Sam Leach defied his own fear of heights to complete his very own ‘Stairway to Heaven’ fund-raising challenge

The Rev Leach and his team of brave climbers successfully climbed to the top of his St Mary Magdalene Church in Upton - raising more than £8,000 in the process.

It was more than £1,000 than his target figure of £7,000 needed for essential repairs to the community kitchen at St Mags.

The 165ft climb to the top was carried out on a windy Thursday.

He's done it -vicar Sam Leach has made it to the topHe's done it -vicar Sam Leach has made it to the top

But the Rev Leach said: “Once we got to the top, it was truly stunning. The wind was blowing hard, particularly at the top.

“There are 11 ladders to the top of the tower and then a further 90ft ladder to the peak of the spire. I was kindly joined on the climb by church warden Ed Williams, Living Room pastor Petrina Jones and verger Gary Clarke.

“I went first, mainly because I was the most frightened, but eternally grateful for their support. The scaffold was in place after a bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund but this did not include any internal repairs.

“The response has been incredible, including coverage in national newspapers, but our main gratitude goes to those who have donated. We have been overwhelmed by the response, raising over £8,000, which covers the kitchen repairs and any surplus will be put toward future church activities for the community.

“I was extremely touched because I was able to pray for Torbay from the top, asking God to bless our community through all the challenges we have faced over the past six months, although I admit to being a little distracted, so perhaps not my most eloquent prayer but certainly heartfelt.”

In normal times, St Mags is open five days a week. Sundays, and two days for young children to enjoy a Play Room and two days for a free community café called the Living Room, often helping some of the most vulnerable in Torbay.

To donate to St Mags, visit www.stmags.org.uk and look for the ladder climb event.